It was lousy growing up fat. Nothing was more degrading than buying my clothes in the “husky” section. Okay, maybe showering in front of a bunch of guys after high school P.E. was worse… or, wait, never dating… or, wait a second, here’s one: being teased behind my back – and for that matter – to my face… or, well… I guess there are countless things that suck about being a fat kid.
A recent study shows that obese children in grades three through six are more likely to be bullied than children of normal weight. Teen suicide due to bullying – an absolutely horrifying thought – has tragically been in the news a great deal, raising awareness of the psychological impact of constant harassment. Now we discover that it begins at an early age, with overweight children as the primary target.
Based on my own memories, I didn’t find this to be news. However, I had assumed, or maybe naively hoped, that things had changed. Not so, as researchers at the University of Michigan surveyed over 800 children ages eight to 11. In the third grade, 15 percent of the children were overweight and 17 percent were obese. A quarter of the students admitted to being bullied; with 45 percent of the mothers reporting that her child had been bullied for his or her weight. The odds of being bullied were 63 percent higher for children who were obese than their classmates of normal weight, and bullies did not discriminate based on gender or economic status. Overweight boys were just as likely as girls to be bullied, and even those with good social skills weren’t spared.